by Anton Chekhov
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This production is made possible in part through the generous support of the Joslyn Castle & the philanthropy of Bruce Reneaud and Kerry Dobson
"Is this really my [play]? Are these really my types? . . . With the exception of a couple of performers, none of it's mine...
I write life... everyday life... But that does not mean annoying moaning and groaning. It's starting to get on my nerves!"
(Chekhov, responding to the "moody, moonstruck," production style that mistakenly became known as "Chekhovian.")
One of Chekhov's most intimate, quixotic plays, Uncle Vanya takes place on an estate (where else?) whose day-to-dayness is suddenly electrified by the arrival of the luscious and vibrant Yelena, along with her elderly, retired, professor husband.
Her natural sensuality and careless teasing ignite fantasies of escape: the cranky Vanya becomes a "live-wire" wit and uncharacteristic lothario; the charming and darkly ironic, "vodka man," Dr. Astrov, is intensely drawn back into a passion he rejected long ago. The volatile energy introduced into the household even affects Vanya's young niece, the disciplined and down-to-earth Sonya, who not only reveals her long-repressed desire for Astrov, but, like the others, imagines that such escape can be realized.
And Yelena? Who is she? Does it matter?
In the meantime, "everyday life" continues--funny, angry, clumsy, wistful. But the doing of everyday tasks is always accompanied by a running, unspoken score of thoughts, feelings, urges. One decision away, the right time, the right place. We laugh at ourselves, cry for ourselves (sometimes at once), and because of the light touch and human understanding of this miraculous playwright, we are refreshed.
(Note to Mr. Chekhov: No moaning or groaning will occur.)
NYT (2006) "The elegant understatement . . . turns it into a lively experiment . . . fluent, gripping."
Rolling Stone "[The] live-wire Vanya . . . fiercely funny, touching, and vital."
Time Out "There's more power here than in all the multi-million dollar fireworks of Hollywood."
NYT (2003) "The ambitionless title character of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and the ambition-riddled Malvolio of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night . . . both unearth provocatively mixed layers of comedy and tragedy from what it means to be unlucky in love."
London Theatre "deliciously bittersweet . . .. love and desire runs like a fine thread . . . which slowly begins to unravel. . . . one feels the centrifugal force of desire."